An underwhelming move to North London...

This year Field Day retreated to the back and beyond, far north of the city and a hefty walk away from any public transport. The weekend was riddled with organisational failures and sound issues, leaving much to be desired.

Entry issues hampered the first day, the inability to open stages on time meant Boy Azooga and Pip Blom had to perform to a ghost crowd made up of crew rather than excited fans. Jessica Winter, Kojey Radical and Femi Kuti also suffered at the hands of poor organisation related to weather issues, where they were turned away and unable to play. While the opening day wasn’t a total shambles, it equally wasn’t the most impressive start for the newly located Field Day. 

The line-up itself had some impressive names on the bill, leaving you with the somewhat frustrating but rather nice problem of clashes and wanting to see everyone at once. This subsequently led to catching 20 minute waves of various acts and never quite managing to capture a full set. Drifting from Bonobo’s hypnogogic waves inside the Printworks stage, to a hooded Skepta jumping around the mainstage in front of a mesmerising light compilation, felt a little strange and disjointed. 

Skepta puts on an impressive live show, enticing even the most fair weather fans with hard hitters ‘Praise The Lord’ and ‘Shutdown’, whilst J Hus joins for ‘What Do You Mean?’.

Elsewhere, Erol Alkan brought in the sunset with some disco imbued, techno trance. Late Night in the Printworks hanger was where Field Day found its strength. Over three hours of George Fitzgerald, Modeselektor and Leon Vynehall had everyone in their element, with high octane sets that could get even the most sober and weary dance machines powered up and moving.

The second day flowed more freely, and operations were noticeably smoother, with some residual sound issues here and there. A skull-crushingly heavy, early afternoon set from Courtesy felt a bit premature in the day and sadly took away from the full force of her adrenalised techno. This was shortly remedied by John Talabot’s deep and brooding house beat which penetrated your brain and seeped through to your bones.

Over in the Boiler Room was an enigmatic dance-fused, old time, hip-hop character in the form of Channel Tres. His Compton roots shone through the opiate bass beat as he jived around the stage, accompanied by a couple dancers shadowing his every move. Following a quick boogie around in the sun to DJ Seinfeld, Marika Hackman occupied an overflowing Dr. Marten’s Boot Room. She wooed onlookers with her effortless cool and indie rock swoon, providing punters with some much-needed downtime.

Wandering over to a packed-out Todd Terje set, you could hear the omnipresent ‘doo-dah’ of fans as he induced a football type chant-a-long to the famed ‘Inspector Norse’. Meanwhile, The Black Madonna gave it her all with an exhilaratingly, euphoric dance eulogy – proving the power of the female DJ and showing how it’s really done.

Jorja Smith closed the night with a fairly underwhelming headline slot. The sound wafted in and out of consciousness as she paraded uncomfortably around the stage. Smith is a promising and breath-taking talent to behold with some hefty bangers under her belt, but this felt disconnected and disenchanting with a lacklustre aura surrounding the sultry songwriter.

Whilst Field Day should be applauded for an exciting and diverse line-up, they just about missed the mark and floundered on the actual execution. Waltzing between heavy hitting techno in the ominous inside hangars and some sultry soul vibes on the main stage was perhaps a little disorientating.

The majority of festival goers, with their jaws to the floor and eyes in a daze, were clearly geared up for raves of the Printworks and Berghain variety. So, when being faced with some more traditional festival style artists, a seemingly flaccid atmosphere shrouded the crowds, drawing you away from the main stage and into the laser shows inside. Field Day would have been best served as a purely electronic experience, contained within the gigantic hangars and a few outdoor rave stages – something which the bizarre and surreal relocation lends itself to perfectly. 

Whilst admirable intentions were all present and correct, with new surroundings bringing the inevitable teething issues, a ‘less is more’ approach would have served Field Day and its punters much better.

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Words: Yasmin Cowan // @Yasmin_Cowan

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